Graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs are specialized licensing systems for beginner drivers adopted in all U.S. states, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. GDL programs reduce novice drivers' exposure to high-risk driving situations while they gain driving experience. Several studies document the success of GDL programs overall in reducing young teen crash rates. However, little is known about which specific components of these programs (e.g., nighttime driving restrictions) and which calibrations of these components (e.g., 10 PM, 11 PM, 12 AM, or 1 AM), are associated with the largest crash reductions. The goal of this study was to identify the GDL component calibrations associated with the largest reductions in fatal crash involvements for 16-17-year-olds. Driver fatal crash involvements for all U.S. states from 1986 to 2007 were analyzed using Poisson regression models to estimate the association of various GDL component calibrations with 16- and 17-year-old driver fatal crash incidence, after adjusting for potential confounders. We found clear evidence that (a) a minimum learner permit holding period of 9-12 months and (b) a passenger restriction allowing only one teen passenger for 6 months or longer are the calibrations for the learner permit holding period and passenger restriction components associated with the largest reductions in 16-17-year-old driver fatal crash involvements. Additionally, the data suggest that (a) disallowing learner driving until age 16, (b) disallowing intermediate licensure until age 16½ to 17, and (c) a nighttime driving restriction starting at 10 PM or earlier are the calibrations for these components associated with the largest reductions in 16-year-old driver fatal crashes. There was no clear evidence to support particular calibrations for supervised driving hours or unrestricted license ages.
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